tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC January 6, 2013 8:00am-9:00am PST
on congress. >> plenty to debate on our powerhouse roundtable with george will, robert reich, greta van susteren from fox news, gwen ifill of pbs and abc's chief correspondent jonathan karl. hello again. happy new year. even before president obama's autopen signed this week's deal into law, it was clear that any cease-fire in washington's battles over taxes and spending would be painfully brief. three new deadlines loom. by the end of february, the treasury will lose the power to borrow more to pay america's bills. across-the-board spending cuts to every federal program taken on march 1st and the government will run out of all congressional funding by the end of march. three more coming fast
that let me turn to the man who negotiated last week's compromise with the white house, senate republican leader mitch mcconnell. thank you for joining us, senator. >> good morning, george. >> i know you think the deal you negotiated is imperfect and you want to fix it as we approach the debt limit. you say no increase in the debt limit without major cuts in spending. the president says he won't even negotiate over that. so to borrow general david petraeus' famous quote from the iraq war, how does this end? >> well, first let me say these last-minute deals are no way to run the government. we've known all of these deadlines are coming. why we end up in these last-minute discussions is beyond me. we need to function. i mean the house of representatives, for example, passed a budget every year. they've passed appropriation bills. the senate democratic majority and the president seem to like these last-minute deals, and we know these three issues are coming up, the sequester, the debt ceiling and the continuing
resolution to operate the government. why not sit down and not wait until the last minute to get these matters resolved? look, the biggest problem confronting the country is not taxes, it's spending. we don't have this problem because we tax too little. we have it because we spend too much. we now have a $16.4 trillion national debt, as big as our economy. that alone makes us look a lot like greece. this administration has driven spending from 21% of our economy up to almost 25% of our economy. we've got to stop using the credit card, and any opportunity we have to engage the other side in a discussion about quitting the spending spree, we're going to engage in. >> and the question is, how do you follow through on your strategy, and, you know, a lot of your allies are worried about that prospect. "the wall street journal" editorial page said "the political result would be far worse if republicans start this fight only to cave in the end.
you can't take a hostage you aren't prepared to shoot. do the two gop leaders have a better strategy today than they did in 2011?" and i guess you're hearing that phrase more and more now, shoot the hostage. are you prepared to do it, to see the country default if the president won't sign the spending cuts you demand? >> well, look, it's not even necessary to get to that point. why aren't we trying to settle the problem? why aren't we trying to do something about reducing spending? we know we need to do it. when are we going to do it? we don't need to use the deadline. we can could go through the regular order. congress could pass bills and could have conferences between the house and senate and the president could be engaged. >> by the end of february? >> sure. yeah, i mean we can do things very quickly. look, these are not new issues. these are not new issues. we know, and we've known for quite some time, that we had all of these issues in front of us. waiting until the last minute is no way to run the government. we ought to be engaging in it
now. >> well, but the deadlines are approaching, and i think the president said he's willing to engage in more discussions over the sequester and the government shutdown, but that would also include new revenues. you say that the tax debate is over. >> oh, yeah, the tax -- revenue -- the tax issue is finished, over, completed. that's behind us. now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future, and that's our spending addiction. it's time to confront it. the president surely knows that. i mean he has mentioned it both publicly and privately. the time to confront it is now. >> but in the last -- >> we ought to engage. >> let me just interrupt you there. in the last year the budget control act, the congress cut $1.5 trillion in spending. that's more than was raised in revenue over this last fiscal cliff deal. are you saying that any discussion of revenue is completely off the table going
forward? you will not accept any new revenues in any new deal? >> yeah, absolutely. the tax issue is behind us. now the question is, what are we going to do about the real problem? we didn't have
this problem because we weren't taxing enough. unfortunately, as a result of the agreement that was reached, 99% of americans will not see their taxes go up. 500,000 small businesses will not see their taxes go up. the president got a trillion dollars less in revenue than he wanted. that means that money stays in the pockets of the american people. now it's time to pivot and turn to the real issue, which is our spending addiction, and we ought to do it together now. we all know we've got to quit spending so much. >> it seems like the divide is as deep as ever. if you're completely ruling out revenues and saying spending is the only answer. some of your colleagues in the senate have raised the prospect, senator john cornyn and others, of what they call a partial government shutdown.
here was senator cornyn in "the houston chronicle" just this week. he said "it may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-material fiscal well-being of our country rather than plod along the path of greece, italy and spain." what exactly does that mean, a partial shutdown of the government, and do you endorse it? >> well, look, it only -- the only reason we're even having these discussions is because of the president and the democratic majority in the senate is unwilling to cut spending. we don't need to have these crises. we need to cut spending. it shouldn't require a crisis to get the president and the democratic majority and the senate to start focusing on the real problem, which is that we spend too much. >> i accept that that's your point of view, but the division still seems to be there, so i'll go back to my original question. how far are you willing to take this strategy? is it acceptable to you that the government default if the president won't agree to discuss spending cuts over the debt limit?
>> my answer is, hopefully we don't need to get to that point. the president surely must know we're spending way too much. so why don't we do something about reducing spending? the only reason these deadlines become significant, george, is because the democratic majority and the senate and the president of the united states don't want to cut any spending of any consequence. they don't want to do anything on the entitlement side. you know, 60% of what we spend every year is interest on the national debt and very popular entitlement programs. until we address the entitlement programs and make the eligibility for entitlements meet the demographics of our country, we can't ever solve this problem. if we want to have the kind of country for our children and grandchildren that our parents left behind for us, the time to do that is now. ironically divided government is the perfect time to do it because you can pull both sides together and do things that need to be done for the future, and the american people will understand since you did it together, it was absolutely
necessary. >> it does seem difficult. i want to turn to another issue. there are reports this week that president obama may nominate your former colleague chuck hagel for defense secretary as early as tomorrow. when senator hagel left the senate in 2008, you praised his clear voice and stature on foreign policy and national security. do you stand by that praise? >> well, whoever is nominated for secretary of defense is going to have to have a full understanding of our close relationship with our israeli allies, the iranian threat and the importance of having a robust military. so whoever that is i think will be given a thorough vetting, and if senator hagel is nominated, he'll be subjected to the same kind of review of his credentials as anyone else. >> several of your colleagues have come out against his appointment saying he's not sufficiently supportive of israel or tough enough on iran among other issues. do you share their concerns? >> well, i'm going to take a look at all the things that
chuck has said over the years and review that and in terms of his qualifications to lead our nation's military. >> but do you still believe he has the stature on foreign policy and national security to be secretary of defense? >> well, he certainly has been outspoken in foreign policy and defense over the years. the question we will be answering if he's the nominee is do his views make sense for that particular job? i think he ought to be given a fair hearing like any other nominee, and he will be. >> but you still have an open mind? >> i'm going to wait and see how the hearings go and see whether chuck's views square with the job he would be nominated to do. >> finally on the issue of guns, clear that the president wants to move fast on the issue of gun control coming out of the sandy hook shooting. vice president biden's task force is likely to make recommendations before the inaugural and he told boston's mayor tom menino that it would be passed by the end of january.
is that optimism on his part justified, and are you open to the kind of reforms the president has already talked about like a limit on high-capacity gun magazines and background checks to buyers at gun shows? >> well, first we need to concentrate on joe biden's group and what are they going to recommend? and after they do that, we'll decide what, if anything, is appropriate to do in this area, but the biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt. that's going to dominate the congress between now and the end of march. none of these issues, i think, will have the kind of priority that spending and debt are going to have over the next two or three months. >> so you're not going to address this until after you address these three deadlines we talked about at the top of the program? >> yeah, the single biggest issue confronting the country is spending and debt. that's going to dominate the discussion in congress for the next three months at least. >> okay, senator mcconnell,
thanks very much for your time
this morning. >> thank you, george. >> we'll be back in 60 seconds with the new faces ready to shake up washington and our powerhouse roundtable takes on all the week's politics coming right up. ♪ [ male announcer ] how do you make 70,000 trades a second... ♪ reach one customer at a time? ♪ or help doctors turn billions of bytes of shared information... ♪ into a fifth anniversary of remission? ♪ whatever your business challenge, dell has the technology and services to help you solve it. woman: we're helping joplin, missouri, come back from a devastating tornado. man: and now we're helping the east coast recover from hurricane sandy. we're a leading global insurance company, based right here in america. we've repaid every dollar america lent us. everything, plus a profit of more than $22 billion.
for the american people. thank you, america. helping people recover and rebuild -- that's what we do. now let's bring on tomorrow. ♪ >> would you take a picture of this quickly? >> how old are you? >> 15. >> remember, no serious guys until you're 30. >> if you need any help on your pecs, let me know. look at that guy. anyone else want to be sworn in as a senator? >> mommy. >> look, look. that's a democrat, i know, but it's okay. >> spread your legs, you're going to be frisked. vice president biden having some fun there swearing in the new senators on capitol hill, and we are joined now by three rising stars of this new congress, democratic senator heidi heitkamp, who surprised so many in the political world by
winning in north dakota, a state where mitt romney beat president obama by almost 20 points, republican congressman tom cotton from arkansas who volunteered for the 101st airborne in iraq and afghanistan after getting degrees from harvard and harvard law and joaquin castro of texas, named president of the house democrats. you may remember his twin brother, the mayor of san antonio. welcome to all of you. senator heitkamp, let me begin with you, 1 of 20 women in the senate. we saw you talking to diane sawyer just the other day talking about how women are better at working together than men, and during the campaign, that was actually your biggest criticism of president obama. i want to show everybody what you said during the campaign. "i think president obama failed in the one test america had for him, which was to unite the country. i think he needed to be more hands-on. i don't think he's done enough to think broadly and come up with solutions that would engage both sides in a reasonable dialogue." so how specifically does he fix that right now, and how can you help him? >> i think the first thing in
the last segment you saw leader -- the minority leader talk in ultimatums. we all need to stop talking in ultimatums and say only these, you know, narrowing the debate, put everything on the table, start working together, that's what you do in america in every small town and every business in america. you don't rule out anything. >> the president has got an ultimatum and says he's not going to talk about spending cuts over the debt limit. >> i think -- i think what we need to do is stop talking in ultimatums and start talking about how we resolve the issue with a sense of urgency, and so that's what the american people sent us here to do, and that's why i think i got elected because i talked about results. you know, there's people who run for these jobs who want the job and then there's people who want to do the job, and we just need to get to work. >> congressman castro, a lot of your democratic allies think the president hasn't been tough enough. >> well, sure, you know, he has gotten some criticism on the left, but, you know, whenever you come to a compromise with
the other party, you're going to get criticism from your own party too because it's not a perfect deal, and the president has worked in earnest with republicans to try to reduce the debt. he's going to continue to do that, but i agree with the senator, it can't be about ultimatums. the republicans, you know, a lot of what you just heard senator mcconnell say was the same thing the republicans have been saying for the last two years. it's as if the election never happened and we never learned any lessons from it. >> what's your response to that, congressman cotton? >> well, we have a debt crisis in this country, and it's clearly caused by too much spending and too little growth, and we have an opportunity over the next 60 to 90 days in the new congress to basically pose consequential questions that we will face in the next two years and that's to get our economy growing by reforming our tax code, cutting spending. the president says he wants $3 spending cuts for every dollar in tax increases, he just got $600 billion of tax increases,
so i hope we see $1.8 trillion in spending cuts. >> the other big news this -- >> george -- >> let me go to another issue right now and we can come back to that in a minute, congressman castro. it does appear president obama is about to nominate chuck hagel to be secretary of defense and you, congressman cotton, have already come out against the nomination. go to "the wall street journal," soldier's eye view of chuck hagel, his record on iraq alone should disqualify the former senator from leading u.s. troops in a time of war. so if you were in the senate, you would vote against him. >> i would vote against him. i'm disappointed the president nominated him and urge others to oppose that. mr. hagel came out against the surge the week i returned from iraq in 2006, said the war couldn't be won. no one had told us that when we were fighting it in 2006. he delayed emergency funding for the troops in 2007 even after the surge succeeded in 2008, he still said it wasn't because of the troops addition. when you add that to his dangerous views on iran and hezbollah and hamas and terrorism as well as his strange hostility toward
israel, i think the senate should oppose him. there are many other qualified defense professional s who the president could nominate. >> this will be your first vote for a defense secretary. what do you make of that argument and do you think senator hagel is the right choice? >> well, this is again the washington view of things. chuck hagel is a tremendous patriot and statesman, served incredibly in vietnam, served this country as the united states senator. he hasn't had a chance to speak for himself, and so why all the prejudging? i don't know. i mean to me in america you give everybody a chance to speak for themselves, and then we'll decide. and so it just again is this kind of fight is the fight that the people of this country get so frustrated about and with. let chuck hagel get nominated if he's going to be nominated, and let's hear what the senator has to say. >> congressman castro, i want to bring up another issue that i brought up with senator mcconnell. it's pretty clear talking to senator mcconnell he doesn't believe the senate should take up gun control measures until
after these fiscal issues are dealt with the first part of the year, he says three months at least. >> well, you know, there's no question that the debt is an important issue, but immigration reform and gun control are also important issues that the american people, quite frankly, have asked the congress to deal with. so i am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he's sincere in wanting to deal with the debt first, but i hope that it's not a stalling tactic, and i wanted to say also with regard to the situation with the debt ceiling limit, the worst thing that we can do as a nation is create another self-inflicted wound the way we did last time. the best thing that we can do is cooperate, work together in a bipartisan spirit to get this economy back and working. that's one of the ways that we're going to be able to reduce this debt and get things moving again. >> senator heitkamp, you are a proud nra member in the state of north dakota. are you willing to sign on to some of the reforms that vice president biden and president obama are already talking about? >> you know, it's unclear.
i mean you read "washington post" stories, and you listen to what the administration says, and so i think what we need to do is we need to take a look at what happened at sandy hook. when i was attorney general, i was tasked with a national task force on school violence. we made a number of recommendations which, in fact, were adopted at sandy hook to help keep schools safer. they weren't adequate. let's start addressing the problem, and to me one of the issues i think screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill. we need to have a broad discussion -- >> the white house is talking about that but are you willing to talk about gun control, as well? >> well, i think you need to put everything on the table, but what i hear from the administration and if "the washington post" is to be believed, that's way -- way in extreme of what i think is necessary or even should be talked about, and it's not going to pass. >> well, but -- >> see, that's the other thing. >> can i point out also to the
senator, and i agree, and many folks who have said that mental health and mental illness is an issue, i agree with that. but at the same time, many of those folks and not to speak to the senator's position but many of those folks have slashed funding for mental health care and they're unwilling to close the gun show loophole which would allow anyone whether in a gang, whether they're mentally ill to buy a gun with no background check at all including the bushmaster which we know has caused problems. >> there will be some debate among democrats here, as well. let me bring in congressman cotton for another question. i want to put up as i bring this to you, congressman, a new poll, "usa today" gallup poll from december showing the congressional approval rating coming into this year, 18%. now, that's actually higher than it was a few months before. it actually was 9% at some point i believe, so you're part of this new class, and you have been touted by so many as a possible star of the freshmen republican class. how do you fix that? what do you think is the source of that disapproval, and how do you fix it?
>> george, it reminds me of one of my very first events on the campaign trail, and everyone came up -- a come came up to me and said you were in the army. i said, yes, ma'am, i was. now you want to go to congress, and i said, yes, ma'am, i do. she said, why would you want to leave the country's most respected institution for the country's least respected institution? i think one of the reasons why the army and military is more respected is the character they display and not just the actions they take, the willingness to confront hard problems head on, a sense of purpose and mission and teamwork to deal with ambiguous, difficult circumstances and make hard decisions under the highest of stakes. i think if we showed a little more of that character in congress and washington more broadly, then congress and washington might be a little more respected than they are now. >> i see your colleagues smiling and nodding their heads. i'm afraid that's all we have time for. hope you'll all come back soon. congratulations on your election and swearing in this week. >> thank you, george. we'll be right back with our powerhouse roundtable.
who won, who lost? what's next on the fiscal cliff? greta van susteren weighs in on the questions about hillary's health and everyone takes on the president's next big pick. is senator hagel up for it? scuba diving the great barrier reef with sharks, or jumping into the market, he goes with people he trusts, which is why he trades with a company that doesn't nickel and dime him with hidden fees. so he can worry about other things, like what the market is doing and being ready, no matter what happens, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense, from td ameritrade.
the roundtable coming right up. what's their take on the new congress? the late night comics have already had their first say. >> today members of the 113th congress today were sworn in at the capitol after which they were like, well, that's enough sport for the year. >> how many are in favor of this deal? [ applause ] how many against this deal? [ cheers and applause ] how many are happy you don't have to hear this stupid phrase "fiscal cliff" anymore? [ cheers and applause ] i've always had to keep my eye on her... but, i didn't always watch out for myself. with so much noise about health care...
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i present the i present the people's gavel to the speaker of the house, john boehner. [ applause ] >> if you've come here to see your name in the lights or to pass off a political victory as some accomplishment, you've come to the wrong place. you come here humbled by the opportunity to serve. if you've come here to be the determined voice of the people, then you've come to the right place. >> speaker john boehner getting a little emotional after accepting the gavel after a surprisingly close vote. one of the things we're going to talk about on our roundtable, joined by george will, happy new year to you, gwen ifill of pbs, abc's new chief white house correspondent jonathan karl, greta van susteren of fox news, former
labor secretary robert reich. i think this is the first time congress was in january 1st since the korean war, and you say the deal, and this is kind of a contrarian view, is a triumph. >> in a sense. i think people will look back on this deal where liberalism passed an affigy and went into decline for the following reason, the bush tax rates were passed in two tranches, 2001 and 2003. in 2001 only 28 democratic members of the house voted for them. in 2003, only 7 did, and they did it for only ten years they were to expire. under this deal, 172 house democrats voted to make bush rates permanent for all but 1/2 of 1% of american taxpayers. what that means is that they can no longer tax the middle class, and we have here an endangered species. >> pointing to me, i don't know why.
>> i'll tell you why, there are only three liberals in the country, and you're one, actively hostile to arithmetic and know you cannot fund a state the liberals want, the entitlement state without taxing the middle class at least and now you've given up that -- with the locking in as permanent law the bush tax rates, that's off the table. >> well, let me first -- let me, first of all, say slightly more non -- more nonpartisan approach. i think that the problem really with the deal is that what we needed most from an economic standpoint is, number one, a stimulus in the short term, number two, serious deficit reduction in the long term and, number three, some stability and some certainty about the future, and we got none of this, and that really is a major problem. we are going to be up against continuous trench warfare, and we have not dealt really at all with the deficit, long-term deficit problem, and in the short term we've got a huge employment issue. i mean jobs should be the number one issue right now in the country.
it still is. we saw that unemployment report, it still is a terrible jobs picture and yet we have virtually no stimulus, in fact, you know, social security taxes are going up. >> jon karl, clear when i was talking to senator mcconnell that even though he doesn't want to accept the possibility of another massive confrontation over the debt limit in february but it's coming, the divisions are as wide as they ever were. >> we are absolutely on a collision course. this amazing situation, george, where the white house is saying, they will not negotiate on the issue of the debt limit. that's just something congress has to do, period, no negotiations, they're not scheduling meetings on it, it's not going to happen, and the speaker of the house, john boehner, is now saying he's through with negotiations. that they're going to go through and pass in the house what they're going to do and move on but there will be none of this long -- >> talking to himself. >> basically talking to himself. >> and president obama, because president obama came out and said, i believe that there are loopholes which still must be closed and fees and taxes which can be raised and heard the speaker -- the senate majority
leader -- minority leader mitch mcconnell saying, no, no, taxes are off the table. it's coming soon. i'm not sure anybody has the appetite for it. >> and it shows that everyone really, you know, really no success stories in this. everyone was a big fat loser, from the white house on down, this whole fiscal cliff resolution that took 18 months to get to where we are, even simpson bowles said it was a missed opportunity. we need short-term stimulus. actually there was. goldman sachs, nascar, hollywood, they all got some short-term stimulus. >> tax extenders. >> why did they get it? the big losers -- >> yeah. >> the big losers are, you know, is it from top down, i blame the white house, i blame capitol hill and the american people saw how the sausage is made and once again they were again because they don't do their work and they just -- all they do is take advantage of the american people. >> don't neglect electric scooters because this tells you how washington works.
the fiscal cliff deal, scooters are made in oregon. senator widen of oregon said it is unfair that the federal government uses tax credits to bribe people to buy electric cars. therefore, we ought to have a tax credit to bribe people to buy electric scooters, which we now do. >> the point is the fiscal cliff is a big fat lie. the stimulus for its special interest, its little -- the congress and the white house -- that's disgraceful and didn't do their job. they've known about this for a long time. if you don't do your job, you don't do your job, none of us would -- we'd be out of jobs and instead the media lets it off the hook. that's the way it's always been done. >> the real question, a practical question, what are they going to do now faced with not only another fiscal cliff but also this debt ceiling. i mean i think that the showdown over the debt ceiling could be much, much worse than anything we've seen so far because they're just dug in.
both sides are dug in. >> this does seem to be a division inside the republican party right now. you have some voices saying, you know, that phrase "the wall street journal" used shoot the hostage. you should be willing to shoot the hostage, go over in default if you have to. senator cornyn calling about a partial government shutdown and newt gingrich saying that would be crazy. that would be a losing strategy. >> that doesn't scare some people because the big loser in the conflict last august was standard & poor's. standard & poor's said we are appalled and will lower your credit rating. they did and the money flowed in. we're borrowing at 40% less not out of this. we're borrowing today at 40% less costs than before our debt was downgraded. >> but don't you -- >> default -- the question is do you have to default? pat toomey says our interest charges are $300 billion a year, our tax revenues are ten times that. we can pay them if we prioritize and don't pay something else. >> meanwhile, jon karl, some democrats on capitol hill, the president says he won't do it, go to the 14th amendment and not allow the united states to default and keep on borrowing. >> it's hard to imagine that they're not going to be tempted to look at that again given --
>> even though -- >> -- how adamant they have ruled it out and white house said they will not and congress must act and saying no negotiations on this. standard & poor's, what their guidance is now saying the risk is not that congress won't act to raise the debt limit they're saying the risk is congress may undermine what little deficit reduction is already put in place. their worried about the underlying problem which is that we have been an exploding deficit problem. >> american people are worried about an underlying problem too. we just heard mitch mcconnell say something everyone can agree with, which is it's beyond me how we got to this point where we were right at this deadline on new year's eve. the president has said, it's beyond me that people can't just do their jobs and the american people are saying it's beyond me they were there doing this. what -- that is the underlying question. >> shouldn't the american people vote for it? greta, let me bring it to you. if you look at it and let me bring it to you, greta. that's what they voted for. you voted -- a lot of people believe this won't get involved or resolved until either republicans win the white house or democrats take
control of the house. >> maybe the strategy shouldn't be how do you win. maybe the strategy should be how do you have a sense of decency in your job and responsibility. maybe they shouldn't take the long vacations that they do. look at the debt ceiling. august 2011 is when they set the sequestration. the super committee didn't make a decision by november. so what did they do? they did absolutely nothing in january, february. going up to august and took the month off in august then in september they all started campaigning and we paid their salaries to campaign. maybe they ought to have a personal sense of decency and stop worrying about winning and at least begin thinking about solving it. >> look, george, i think the only way that the president can win on the debt ceiling is by mobilizing the business community, mobilizing wall street, putting huge pressure on republicans in congress right now. it's got to be done right now. it can't wait. the economy really will suffer if we go right up to that deadline because it's not like the fiscal cliff. we're talking about the full faith and credit of the united states. >> if that doesn't work, bob, i mean does the president -- can he really sustain this notion that he's not going to negotiate? >> he can't. that's why he needs wall street and the business community behind him saying don't
jeopardize the full faith and credit of the united states. it is an abuse of power to subject the united states to that kind of potential danger. >> but how much negotiating is he doing? last week he had to outsource it to vice president biden because he doesn't have the relationships, he hasn't spent the years whether as president or -- he had to outsource it to see his old friend senator mcconnell. it's so dysfunctional -- >> start by saying i'll give you this. they never start that way. they start with, this is my line. and that's where you -- >> trust each other and in order to negotiate, you have to have some sense of trust. it can't just be about winning and there's absolutely no -- >> that's why i want to come to jon karl on this. speaker boehner couldn't move his caucus along. and you were on the floor during speakership, and it was a lot closer than anyone really expected. >> look, there were only 12 republicans who did not support him, right? but it was incredibly dramatic
because 17 was the number that would force it to go to another ballot and then who knows what would happen. there was a moment during that vote, as i was watching on the floor, where there were more than 17 that were still, you know, still out there so let their names go by without voting the first time and you could see the speaker's staff on the floor and you could see the staffers for the whip, mccarthy on the floor keeping vote tallies and worried this was going to go the wrong way. this was a real shot across -- >> republicans who are worried for speaker boehner doing exactly what their constituents elected them to do. >> they are dissenting from the great american consensus. i again think the journalistic narrative about washington today is 180 degrees wrong. the problem in the country is a consensus that is broad. republicans subscribe to it, which is that we should have a large, generous welfare state and not pay for it. that's the point about expending all the bush tax rates for all except 1/2 of 1% of the country is that we have now put off
limits, the source of money in this country which is the middle class so we're not going to pay for the welfare state. >> coming back with more tax -- >> that narrative is fundamentally wrong. i think what the public does not fully grasp is that it's health care costs in the future combined with aging baby boomers that are driving these deficits. it is not social security. it is not medicare or medicaid. it is the underlying dysfunctionality of our health care system and the affordable care act did not do enough to control long-term health care costs. that's what everybody in washington ought to be focusing on right now. >> 10 years from now, 20 years from now we'll say two big changes in american life. much more reliance on private savings and means testing of entitlement programs. i don't care who is president, i don't care who runs congress we'll have both of these. >> as early as tomorrow we're likely to see a new nominee. i'm going to switch subjects right now for secretary of defense, chuck hagel. the white house says the phone call has not been made to former senator hagel yet but it's almost certain to happen. and one of the things we've seen, gwen ifill, right here is
an extraordinary amount of politicking before an appointment is made trying to force the president to change his mind. >> there are so many trial balloons floating around, it blocks the sun at this point. we saw a trial balloon for secretary of state. we've seen them for chief of staff, for treasury secretary even though it looks like it's going to be the same people we hear all along. what i don't understand about the trial balloons is why you don't pull the trigger and do something about it? in this case it did not happen with susan rice. that's not happened with other nominees partly because of the distraction of this debt -- this fiscal cliff debate, but i think in the case of senator hagel, with everyone coming from different sides, the left and the right and the pro-israel caucus and you name it coming down on him, you know, gay rights supporters all coming down on him at once, the white house sounds like they're not prepared to actually do something about it and make people put their money where their mouth is. you saw senator mcconnell who praised chuck hagel in the past suddenly saying, well, let's wait and see. we saw chuck schumer who praised
him in the past say let's wait and see. >> that's important because there's so much concern among these people who raised the questions that they say chuck hagel is not sufficiently pro-israel. there's already been an ad against him from the emergency committee for israel. >> while president obama says all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear iran, hagel says, military action is not a viable, feasible, responsible option. president obama, for secretary of defense, chuck hagel is not a responsible option. >> jon karl, that caused some concern about democrats, as well as gwen mentioned. the question is, why is the president so determined to go forward with it? >> he thinks he is the right guy for the job. he thinks having an enlisted vietnam veteran running the pentagon who agreed with him when it came to iraq and on afghanistan, he's the right guy to do it, but i've got to tell youm there's going to be a big problem in the senate on this. i talked this morning to a top democratic staffer in the senate who said this is not a guarantee that he will get confirmed, that
there are enough democrats that are concerned about hagel to put him well short of 50 until he makes the case. i mean i think ultimately he gets confirmed, but this will be a real battle in the senate. >> originally a puzzle here, with all of the fights that the president has coming up, why is he doing this? i mean, there are a lot of other people he could be putting up, but why is he expending political capital in this way? i don't understand. >> he didn't want to see his two top picks for national security jobs that -- he already gave up on susan rice. he wasn't going to give up on his second. >> he's also a republican, let's not forget that, and that also up to a point -- >> original. >> original intention but, look, the guy -- the president gets to choose and he's going to have a hearing. he's going to answer all the questions and without all of us there will be poking at him and all his critics running ads against him, you know, i would like to hear what he has to say. >> the fight doesn't begin until the nomination is actually made. all this prefight is fun to
watch, but in the end these guys have to show up, take their questions, get his answers and vote or not vote and decide whether it's worth it for them to expend the political capital to go against the president. >> big difference with the susan rice case. that didn't make it to -- >> my point. >> but in this case the white house has been aggressive in defending hagel before the pick was made. >> it is an odd pick, first of all, because if you pick a republican, a democrat picks a republican, he obviously has to be someone who thinks like republicans and is liked by republicans and neither is true in this case. furthermore, he doesn't think the way the president thinks or at least the way the president talks about iran and sanctions and negotiating with hamas and all the rest and gays in the military, all that stuff. all that -- >> he's in line with the president on iran. i mean they both tried for negotiations and that the military should be a last resort. he's saying it's not responsible to talk about a military option right now. >> i think what he
he says, it's a last resort and a fundamentally disastrous resort and says it is so disastrous it's not realistic, which may be right. i disagree with him on a lot of stuff but think he will be confirmed and should be because vast deference is owed to them in cabinet members. their job is to carry out the president's wishes and "b," they leave when the president leaves. that's why more deference is owed to him than on supreme -- >> i would love to quote you on that. he will at the end of the day will get through. i can't imagine a republican senate, the republican senators rejecting a republican -- a former republican senator but -- >> but -- >> well, they made -- but there will be enough votes there, george. >> i disagree. >> there will be blood on the floor and that's the -- why do it? that's the question. >> because at some point you have to put some blood on the floor if you say you believe in things. >> there's going to be so much blood on the floor with regard to the fiscal cliff and other issues such as the debt ceiling. >> another member of the president's cabinet is leaving this month,
secretary of state hillary clinton. we saw this week a real health scare hospitalized for a blood clot after so many questions and i'm going to bring this to you, greta, after we show some of this on fox news whether or not she was really sick. >> when you don't want to go to a meeting or a conference or an event, you have a diplomatic illness. >> you know, i'm not a doctor but it seems as though that the secretary of state has come down with a case of benghazi flu. >> and a concussion because the tree falls in the forest does it really fall in nobody hears it fall? did she really have a concussion? >> greta, you're not part of this in any way. you did not question her -- can you help explain what's behind all of these questions? >> i mean i don't get behind -- i'm responsible for what i say, number one. those are all dated before she was hospitalized, and there was not much information coming out of the state department and very early on with those -- look, not for one second did i doubt it. once these people heard that she was seriously ill, that all changed. the secretary of state will have i think answer questions about
benghazi. four people murdered in washington that were unsolved we would still be asking questions in this state. but, look, she was very sick. and when the state department came up with more information, you saw all that stop. so i have nothing beyond to say that. >> look, i've known hillary for decades. she is a workhorse. she works harder than anybody i know. >> and i've traveled with her. i've seen her. i've traveled with her and anybody who's traveled with her has seen that. >> she's traveled to more countries than any former secretary of state. >> and she's not shy for a fight either. >> she said she'll come back and testify on benghazi for the senate. >> probably be the last thing. she will not travel and be one of the last things she has to do. meanwhile, the other big thing coming up, gun control coming out of sandy hook and heard senator mcconnell right there saying, george will, that this must follow all of the debate, the fiscal cliff debates we'll be having over the next three months.
>> well, if the president can through his allies control what comes before congress, so i don't think mr. mcconnell can stop this. there are two questions. first of all, the president should look at his home city of chicago and talk to his former friend and still friend i guess, chief of staff, former chief of staff -- >> rahm emanuel. >> where they had 500 murders in chicago last year, most of them gun violence and see if gun control has anything to do with that. george, my feeling about gun control policy is a little bit like climate control policy, it's been well said that the only policy question about climate change is how much money do you want to spend on climate change to have no effect, discernible effect on the climate, and the same is true with gun control. i do not see how you can write a law that will have much effect on what they're experiencing, for example, in chicago. >> you know, really we should take a look a little bit more at ourselves from top to bottom. i mean we have so much violence surrounding us which we think it's okay.
when we go to the movies we see it, it's okay. obviously you can't legislate against things like that and the president sends rappers to the white house. there's no effort for us to look at ourselves and how we're so -- we're numb to violence. >> have any rappers resulted in the death of schoolchildren? >> i don't think it's all schoolchildren. there were two firefighters murdered on december 24th. they weren't schoolchildren. this has put a highlight on the problem. >> as george points out every weekend there are people killed on street corners in chicago. if you look back over the president's statement on gun violence in the wake of newtown and what secretary arne duncan has to say they talk about the broader idea of violence. what's on the table right now for vice president biden and the people trying to figure out what to do is a wide range of issues, some of it having to do with gun control. some speaking to gun violence. that's the only way you'll get -- these things come up and then they fade after the shock. >> gwen, i don't think washington can necessarily answer the question for the nation.
what i'm trying to point out, that we all have to look at ourselves as well, even that psa that hollywood artists put out for gun control the other day and then side by side some put all the violent movies they're in. i mean, this is a big discussion, a big national narrative we all have to look at ourselves in terms of how our culture has come to accept violence as an answer to problems, as a solution to problems. we see that on tv and movies all over. >> greta is undoubtedly correct but the fact remains that the murder of 20 first graders has touched the nation in ways that i don't remember the nation being touched. i don't think this is going to go away. the nra's technique in the past has been to really rely on the attention deficit disorder of america. basically lay low until attention is no longer placed on this, but we are having now a national discussion of a sort that we have had to have and that -- >> joh, i think bob is right about how there was an initial
spike in attention and concern right after sandy hook but seems to have subsided just a bit according to the most recent polls and that's why the white house knows that speed matters here. they're going to have to move quickly. >> speed matters. i think there was a moment right after sandy hook where you could see some movement for the first real gun control legislation to pass in some 20 years. >> among democrats. >> among democrats, strong supporters of the nra, but i've got to say -- >> senator heitkamp didn't seem all too enthusiastic to move forward on gun control. >> it's not going to happen soon because there's no way congress will think about anything along those lines until we're done with the fiscal cliff mess, the debt ceiling, the funding of the government. we're at least two or three months away before this can even be considered and that's a lot of time. we do have attention deficit disorder, and there will be a real challenge to get any gun control legislation passed. >> the real tragedy, the children unbelievable through all our attention but the firefighters trying to save lives on christmas eve, i think that -- i've done criminal
defense work for years and been to murder scenes, this violence, you talk about the chicago schools, it is horrible, i mean chicago violence, a lot was in schools and we've got -- >> 25 sandy hooks in one year. >> national narrative not just -- we've got to look at all communities and see what's going on in all communities and on in all communities and we've got to stop being so numb to the violence and just say, okay. >> real quickly, how many do you think there will be a real serious package of reforms passed by congress this year. >> on guns? i think it's as likely as a serious package on immigration reform and energy and climate change and all the other things the president has said are high on his list. >> i think it will happen, george, if the president gets behind it and gets chiefs of police, mayors, mobilizes the public and the people who are likely to be supportive. >> you're shaking your head. >> define serious. if you mean makes a difference in gun control, no. but some laws will be passed. >> we're going to have to take a
santa came and left the bills. >> you put all the money on the kids now you need money to buy something for yourself. >> so monday we show you how to turn unwanted christmas gifts into what you really want, cash. it's real money on "world news" with diane sawyer monday on abc. ♪ it's a beautiful day what a day for senator
mark kirk. a year ago he suffered a stroke, walked back up the steps of the capitol to be part of this. a big triumph for him. he's coming back to the senate. as we look ahead to 2013, i want to get all the roundtable to weigh in on who they think in the political world will make a splash next year. >> jeb hensarling is a republican conservative, new chairman of the financial services committee. sherrod brown is a liberal senator from ohio. the two of them could get together because sherrod brown is absolutely right on the need to break up the large banks and reduce the too big to fail threat to our societiment those two could get together and solve a problem. >> that could be quite an appliance. >> i have small bore/big bore. small bore is deval patrick governor of massachusetts who gets to decide who the next senator will be and right up against a rock and a hard place of barney frank saying i wouldn't mind being a temporary guy and vicki kennedy and then, of course, ed markey thinking about running
for the seat. interesting thing to see this in the senate and what deval patrick has to do. the other large bore is bashar assad. he gave a speech that was given in syria. he said "i'm not negotiating with terrorists." take that. yeah, sounds familiar. he is -- we keep waiting for him to fall, 60,000 syrians killed in this violence and no sign of -- >> amazing he lasted this long. >> mine is not exactly a new face. joe biden. on new year's day showed he is the one in the white house that can still work with congress. i think this is going to be a big year for biden because if the president is going to get anything accomplished with congress, it's clear he will need biden to work directly with them. i look for biden and wonder if it's going to make or break his prospects. >> they call him the mcconnell whisperer. >> i spent a day with susana martinez, a republican hispanic governor of new mexico when she took office a year ago, she had a deficit and came in, worked with the democratic legislature, balanced the budget. they no longer has a deficit and right now the president is considering signing katie's law
which has to do with taking dna from people who are arrested and some people may challenge the constitutionality of it but she was the underlying d.a. in this law and is a big crime fighter. >> two rising senate stars, one is elizabeth warren. i think that she will be helpful in george's and my campaign to limit the size of big banks and also angus king, an independent from maine, tremendous integrity and very popular. >> two new englanders though i say also senator joe manchin of west virginia, keep an eye on him, and now we pause to honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice. this week the pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in afghanistan. and finally, "your voice" this week. diana biederman asks today's question. why do we have inaugural ceremonies for two-term presidents?
it says they all have to be sworn in. always an excuse for some party. this year has been scaled way back from ten balls to two but second inaugurations have been a time for some first. african-americans joined the parade for the first time at abraham lincoln's second inaugural. woodrow wilson's second, women were included 52 years later. harry truman's 1949 inaugural was the first on television and in 1997, americans could watch the swearing in online for the first time of bill clinton. tweet me your political questions to @gstephanopoulos plus greta is going to answer your questions for this week's web extra. thanks for spending your sunday with us. check out "world news" with david muir and don't forget that "nightline" has a new starting tuesday, 12:35 a.m. i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
>> in the news this sunday. there could be sharks hockey again. nice on an early morning deal between the players and the owners. and a 22-year-old man is dead of a crashing into a light pole in the south bay. all right. louddy conditions over san francisco with some light rain falling over some of our neighborhoods. i'll let you know when you can